He’s Outside the Box

Getting ready for Bible study/translation this morning, I was again caught in the prayer of Paul for the Philippians:

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Phil. 2:14-21, NIV)

Okay, here’s my quick thoughts on this: Paul is prayer seems to give the dimensions of a box. As I pondered this, I was rudely transported back to high school geometry class–the seedbed of so many nightmares. One positive thing I did gain from that class was the encouragement to consider the multi-dimensions of things: life isn’t one dimensional, flat. Paul seems to be trying to get the Philippians to realize this same thing about God.

No sooner has he drawn them a box, then he goes on to clearly point out how God is outside the box. There is no box that can contain him. He is the God who is exceedingly abundantly about all we could ask or imagine. Wow!

When my girls were little, they could spend hours playing in empty boxes, especially empty appliance boxes. My grandchildren must have inherited the same gene. There is so much that can be done with a box. So many worlds that one can create with a little imagination.

My girls outgrew playing in boxes. The same will probably happen with the grandkids. And that’s okay. Life is meant to be lived outside the refrigerator box.

God wants us to outgrow the childish boxes we may have kept in him, too. What would happen if you let him out of the box? How would your spiritual life change if you allowed him to be bigger than you’ve imagined him to be? How deep, high, and wide is your experience of his love?

I’m going to play–live–outside the box today. I’m not sure what it will look like…but I’m willing to look. How about you?

Lent Day Eleven: What happened to Nine?

Did you even miss it?  Day nine, that is.  My day just absolutely got away from me.  From get go to done, I felt like I was racing down a neverending hill, faster and faster, until I was crashing into my bed way later than my normal, sane bedtime. 

I don’t like days like that.  I like days that follow the plan, that leave me room for the things I want to get done, but also leave me room to breathe.  I used to thrive on days that seemed to go 90 mph–not so much anymore.  The best kind of days have space for breathing and thinking, for noticing and appreciating, for me and the people I care about.

The problem is: I can’t blame the day, even though that would be easier.  I’m the one who allowed things to move in and crowd out the things I enjoy and the things I wanted (needed) to get done.  I was the one who didn’t say no.  I was the one who attempted to squeeze one more thing in.  I was the one who allowed the urgent to steamroll right over the important.

I remember when I learned the difference.  It was many years ago, reading Charles Swindoll’s book “Strengthening Your Grip.” He had a whole chapter about learning to differentiate between the urgent and the important.  It was a lesson that hit me and has stuck all these thirty years later.  The problem is that I tend to realize much too late that I got myself into a situation that warrants my paying closer attention to what’s happening.  Sure, I can adjust, but isn’t it better to be proactive rather than always reactive?

Can you tell the difference between the urgent and the important?  Oh, I wouldn’t even pretend to believe that there won’t be those moments when my holding to the important won’t be interupted by the urgent.  The problem is when I sacrifice the important things, the truly valuable (especially as it relates to my spiritual life) on a continual basis to what “appears” to be urgent.  This happens for me, this giving into what only appears urgent, but truly isn’t, when what is really important is also difficult.  I can easily allow myself to be distracted to avoid the work of doing what is important.

Is the whole Lenten experience important to you? Or is it easier to get sidetracked by the pressing matters of the day?  How is your prayer experience?  Do you hold to regular quiet time with God?  You feel like you should, you want to, but as important as it is, you just can’t seem to keep that appointment with him–so many other things…too many other things.

One thing that I’ve realized, too slowly I’m afraid, is that God thinks that time is important, too.  And more importantly, He will help me keep those appointments.  He will give us the desire of our heart.  If we will trust that and live into that, I believe there will be far fewer missing day nines and much greater depth and breadth in our spiritual life and journey.  Go ahead, ask Him and see what He’ll do.

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